Later this month wrestlers, runners, hounds, families and fun-seekers will head to Grasmere for one of the most well-loved days in the Cumbrian calendar.
The annual Grasmere Sports show will take place on August 27, featuring an array of traditional Lakeland sports, from Cumberland and Westmorland Wrestling to hound trailing and track racing. One of the highlights of the day is always the Senior Guides Race, in which fell runners take on the steep challenge of the slopes leading to the summit of Grey Crag.
However, those who prefer a more sedate approach can take a slightly more circuitous - but no less scenic - route from Grasmere to the top to reach the lovely Alcock Tarn, which stands just above Grey Crag. Alcock Tarn was previously named Butter Crag Tarn after the rocky bluffs to its north. However, the name was changed in the 19th century after its owner, Mr Alcock, dammed and enlarged the tarn before stocking it with Brown Trout.
This circular walk starts in the centre of Grasmere village before heading steeply up to the tarn and descending via becks and waterfalls.
From Grasmere to Alcock Tarn
From Grasmere follow Stock Lane, passing the large Stock Lane car park, to reach the mini roundabout on the main A591. Cross the road and walk past the Wordsworth Grasmere attraction and poet William Wordsworth’s former home at Dove Cottage.
Keep following the road past Dove Cottage to a crossroads, with a white sign to White Moss and Ambleside. Walk in the opposite direction to this sign, following a wooden fingerpost pointing to Alcock Tarn and the Coffin Route to Rydal. After a short distance, turn left to follow a gravel track through the woods (following a wooden sign to Alcock Tarn).
The track passes through metal gates to reach a post with footpath arrows. Follow the path which leads uphill.
This path gradually winds up the hillside, with increasingly pleasant views across the Vale of Grasmere towards Helm Crag and the fells beyond. Go through a wall and gate with a National Trust sign and then continue to the shores of Alcock Tarn.
From Alcock Tarn to Grasmere
In his guides to the Lakeland fells, Alfred Wainwright described Alcock Tarn as a “dreary sheet of water”. However, this seems more than a little unfair. In fact, it is a lovely place to stop for a sandwich and to enjoy the view. Those who are inclined may also enjoy a swim or perhaps even a spot of fishing.
A path follows a wall beside the tarn and then passes through another wall before beginning to head downhill. The route zig-zags through bracken before heading down to a wooden footbridge crossing a beck. Follow the beck downstream and then go through a gate and emerge onto tarmac next to houses.
Walk down to the road and turn left. Keep on going down to the main road and then turn right and walk beside the road for a few metres before crossing over and following the minor road back into the centre of Grasmere.